Matthew Ricketts is a Canadian composer currently based in New York City. His music moves from extremes of presence and absence, from clamor to quietude, at once reticent and flamboyant. Matthew’s music has been called “lyrical, contrapuntal, rhythmically complex and highly nuanced” (The American Academy of Arts and Letters) and is noted for his “effervescent and at times prickly sounds,” “hypnotically churning exploration of melody” (ICareIfYouListen) as well as its “tart harmonies and perky sputterings” (The New York Times). He is a 2020/2021 Gaudeamus Finalist and a 2019 Guggenheim Fellow.

His works have been performed internationally by JACK Quartet, Mivos Quartet, Flux Quartet, the Fromm Players, Quatuor Bozzini, the Chiara String Quartet; vocalists Margot Rood, Ellen Wieser, Tony Arnold, Sharon Harms and Ekmeles; Yarn/Wire, Nouvel Ensemble Moderne (NEM), Wet Ink, TAK, Aspen Contemporary Ensemble, Stony Brook Contemporary Chamber Players, Ensemble Paramirabo, Argento Ensemble, Talea Ensemble, Jean-Willy Kunz, Sara Laimon and Julia Den Boer, the Aspen Philharmonic Orchestra (Robert Spano, cond.), Esprit Orchestra (Alex Pauk, cond.), the Minnesota Orchestra (Osmo Vänskä, cond.) the Montreal Symphony Orchestra (Kent Nagano, cond.) and the Philharmonisches Staatsorchester Hamburg.

In 2018 Ricketts’ multilingual opera Chaakapesh: The Trickster’s Quest (written in collaboration with renowned Cree playwright Tomson Highway) opened the Montreal Symphony’s 84th season to great critical acclaim and went on to tour Indigenous communities throughout Québec. Matthew is the recipient of fellowships from Civitella Ranieri (2021), The American Academy of Arts and Letters (2020 Charles Ives Fellowship), MacDowell (2019), the Tanglewood Music Center (2018 Elliott Carter Memorial Fellowship) and the Aspen Music Festival (2017), in addition to the 2016 Lili Boulanger Memorial Fund Prize, the 2016 Jacob Druckman Prize (Aspen Music Festival), the 2016 Mivos/Kanter Prize, the 2015 Salvatore Martirano Memorial Composition Award, a 2013 ASCAP Morton Gould Young Composer Award and eight prizes in the SOCAN Foundation’s Awards for Young Composers.

Active as a writer as well as a composer, Matthew has published articles, reviews, poetry and libretti, and has worked closely with authors, poets and lyricists Mark Campbell, Lauren J. Rogener, Paul Legault, Christian Schlegel, Klara du Plessis and Tomson Highway on multiple collaborative projects. Other collaborative endeavors include recent works for dancer- choreographers Brendan Drake and Jennifer Nichols.

Matthew holds degrees in music composition and theory from McGill University’s Schulich School of Music (B.Mus. 2009) and Columbia University (DMA 2017). Matthew’s principal mentors include Brian Cherney, John Rea, Chris Paul Harman, George Lewis and Fred Lerdahl. Matthew was Composer-Collaborator-In-Residence at East Carolina University from 2016-2018 and served as Core Lecturer at Columbia University from 2017-2020.


" Adrift (2020) "

Concerto pour clarinette et orchestre


When I travelled to Hamburg in January 2020 I was struck by how much of a 'sea city' Hamburg is. I knew it was a port but still found myself surprised how much the ocean is part of the city... the canals, the ships and boats, the mist which seems to make buildings disappear suddenly (like the Elbphilharmonie, which itself obviously is designed to recall a ship of some kind). When I discovered that clarinet soloist Rupert Wachter is in fact a sailing enthusiast, owns a boat and is an avid sailor, the piece-in-progress took on a nautical quality somehow. Adrift refers to this sense of floating or wandering, a kind of buoyancy or liquidity of material, orchestrational shimmer like light on the water.

Matthew Ricketts